The Middle East Channel

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu lashes out on Iran at the U.N.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu lashes out on Iran at the U.N.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against working with the Iranian government and launched an attack on Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani. Netanyahu called Rouhani a "wolf in sheep’s clothing" saying his recent "charm offensive" with Western leaders is a "ruse and a ploy" to "fool the world" while Iran continues toward nuclear armament. He maintained that Israel would not permit Iran to develop nuclear weapons, even if it meant taking unilateral military action. He also accused Tehran of supporting terrorist attacks and fostering insecurity in other countries in the Middle East. Iran denounced Netanyahu’s claims as "extremely inflammatory" and insisted it has no intentions of developing nuclear arms. Additionally, Iran said it would retaliate against any military strike. The Israeli prime minister’s comments came a day after he met with U.S. President Barack Obama who reassured him that, if necessary, the United States would use force to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

Syria

International chemical weapons inspectors have begun their work aimed at dismantling Syria’s chemical arsenal Wednesday. Meanwhile, fierce clashes have continued for a third day in the Damascus neighborhood of Barzeh between government forces and al Qaeda linked fighters. The flow of foreign extremists into Syria is rising, and jihadist fighters are playing an increasing role in the Syrian conflict. While the fighting is still dominated by Syrians, foreigners have been assuming a variety of roles such as monitoring checkpoints, serving as battlefield commanders, and establishing de facto governments. According to analysts and local residents, foreign fighters are mainly from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Libya, but they have also seen Chechens, Kuwaitis, Jordanians, Iraqis, and Emiratis. Al Qaeda affiliate the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has become the leading force for foreign fighters in Syria. While at first welcomed as a powerful ally, ISIS is increasingly pursuing its own agenda and clashing with other rebel factions.

Headlines

  • Nearly 1,000 people were killed in Iraq in September in a surge of violence that is raising concerns of a return to a sectarian civil war.
  • Iran’s parliament has strongly endorsed President Rouhani’s diplomatic outreach at the U.N., meanwhile talks between Iran and the IAEA, while "constructive," appeared to make little progress.
  • The U.N. has released a report after finding "widespread" torture and ill treatment in Libyan jails.
  • Iraq’s electoral commission has announced the Kurdistan Democratic Party has come out on top after parliamentary elections in the autonomous Kurdish region with the opposition Goran party taking second place.
  • The Bahraini government has convicted some of the 50 people jailed Sunday, under accusations of working to overthrow the government and spying for foreign states.

Arguments and Analysis

Not My Brotherhood’s Keeper: The Fallacy of Crushing Egypt’s Chief Islamist Group‘ (Amro Ali, The Atlantic Council)

"There is little doubt that laws need to be passed to prevent the misuse of mosques for political campaigning and sectarian incitement. The Brotherhood needs to be legally obliged to become transparent with its activities, and importantly, pushed into a state of self-reflection. Banning the organization pushes its members further back into their traditional comfort zone in which they thrive – victimhood and opposition. 

As highly problematic as the organization is, the Brotherhood is not the by-product of a foreign plot, rather it is a by-product of Egypt’s social forces and needs to be reintegrated into a system of transitional justice and national reconciliation. Targeting the Brotherhood’s social support networks – healthcare, education, and welfare services – will have a crippling effect on the rural poor. The state is too incompetent to fill the void. Former regime loyalists and revolutionary forces struggle to run an effective political campaign in these areas, let alone service their basic needs."

A critical time in U.S.-Israel relations‘ (Rami Khouri, The Daily Star)

"The Israeli prime minister presumably understands that he is dealing with an American president who enjoys a much stronger hand than was the case when these two men disagreed several times during recent years. The American public also seems in no mood to have a foreign zealot manipulate the domestic American political system at a time when that system is in serious disarray over the dysfunctional relationship between the president and Congress.

This is a rare moment when the issue at hand is not only the fate of Iranian nuclear technology or the strategic interests of the United States. We are perhaps witnessing in the coming months a recalibration of power relationships between the U.S. and Israel, with Washington pursuing policies in the Middle East that are determined by the national interest of the U.S., rather than by the dictates and fears of Israel and its apologists in Washington.

That would be the kind of birth of a new Middle East that should be welcomed by all, including Israelis."

–Mary Casey & Joshua Haber